Many of us post things about our kids online either in blogs or in status updates on facebook. We post nice things, such as “My daughter said the cutest thing today...” or not so pleasant things like “My son threw the most embarrassing temper tantrum in the store today!”
We are our kids parents, but we are not their owners. We do not have permission to post whatever we want about them.
I have been preaching since my son was two years old. I think my son is one of the most spiritually aware and smartest people I know, therefore, I have learned many lessons from him. I could probably write a sermon based on something wise he has said every week. However, I know not to do this without his permission.
In seminary we learned that whenever we use a story about someone, no matter how simple the story seems, we must ask them before we use it. I do this with my son as well. I let him know what the story is and why I want to use it and I ask him if that is alright. At first I thought that since he is young maybe he won’t really understand so even if I get his permission, am I really still taking advantage of someone not old enough to make this decision? Well, that is still a question, but I try to do be as responsible as I can.
For a while my son loved that I preached about him, this year though, he really does not like it. I figured this out when I gave a sermon with a story about him in it this summer, which I had given a year before. After the sermon, he was upset that I used the story. I told him he said it was ok to use it when I gave the sermon before, but he said now he doesn’t want me to use it again. Now I know to ask his permission every time. And I know to read these blog posts to him before I post them, just like I have my mom, dad and husband read them and approve them before I post.
Some kids may love the attention this public information gives them. Many people talk to our son after a sermon, and he used to like it. Now he sometimes thinks people are making fun of him, especially if they laugh at a cute story I tell about him.
I hope that we all are very aware of how we are exposing our children by writing about them publicly. Many of us won’t post photos of our kids for fear about their physical safety. But when we post about what our kids are doing and saying, we are posting about their emotions and thus risking their emotional safety and privacy.
And for those of us who know these children and read about them, please be respectful of the fact that they may not want to talk to you about what their parents wrote about them. No matter how cute or special the comment was. For many young kids, this can be seen as embarrassing or just an overload of attention.
Please ask your children before you post anything, you never know what is alright with them and what is not. And know you will mess up anyway, so be open with your kids and apologize when you need to.